Las Vegas Sun

July 23, 2014

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State appoints new engineer on water issues

The state of Nevada has appointed Jason King as the new state engineer. King is an engineer and has worked for the Division of Water Resources for more than 19 years.

The state engineer is charged with overseeing the state's groundwater supply and permits. King has served as acting state engineer off and on since Thanksgiving 2008 while former state engineer Tracy Taylor was on a leave of absence due to health problems.

Taylor will become a deputy state engineer starting today.

“I want to thank Tracy for his nearly four years of service as the state engineer," said Allen Biaggi, director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. "He has guided the agency through some challenging times.”

Taylor is best known for his role in the ongoing eastern Nevada water rights saga.

Taylor, as a newly minted state engineer in summer 2006, refused to allow new public comments and protests to the Southern Nevada Water Authority's water rights permit application for hundreds of thousands of acre feet of water in the Spring Valley.

In response, a large group of protesters, including The Great Basin Water Network, Defenders of Wildlife, The Great Basin and Utah chapters of Trout Unlimited as well as numerous individuals, filed a petition for judicial review on the matter later that year. They claimed the Water Authority's application had expired because the state engineer's office had failed to rule on it for more than a decade.

In early 2007, while the case was still in court, Taylor approved the Water Authority's application for water rights in the Spring Valley water basin.

The court ultimately sided with Taylor, but its decision was thrown out Jan. 28 of this year, when the state Supreme Court ruled the Water Authority's water application had, indeed, expired when the decision was made.

The Water Authority has since re-applied for that water, but faces strong opposition from rural Nevadans and environmentalists.

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